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Killing is NOT the Same Thing as Murder

Posted by O'Maolchaithaigh on December 24, 2013

Why is that?

Killing It is so, because murder is a legal term for killing not sanctioned by society. If all killing were murder, then executions would be murder. If all killing was murder, then any death in wartime would be murder: killing the enemy? murder. Friendly fire? murder. collateral damage? murder.  Because we sanction those things, we do not define them as murder. Recently I came across the comparison of the fines and penalties for harming the eggs of protected species, like Eagles, and human fetuses.  fetus The argument appears to be that if it’s wrong to destroy eagle eggs, then it is wrong to kill human fetuses as well. This does not follow logically. The Eagle, for one, although recovering, is an endangered species, and the fine is an attempt to allow that species to continue. Does anyone, really, anyone, believe that abortion is killing the human race? That we are in danger of dying out as a species because of abortion? No, of course not. Hell, we continue to proliferate, for now. What does threaten the survival of the human race is pollution of the air and water, and eradication of too many animal species. Life on Earth is a balancing act.

When we kill off entire species, we remove an element from the balance. For example, animals are usually either prey for some other animal, or prey on some other animal, or are both. If a species goes, its actions in the balance of things go too. The result can be overpopulation of that animals prey, or an absence of prey for others, whether it was mammalian or insect, or aquatic in nature. Sometimes, another animal can fill the void, sometimes not. Sometimes, the death of a species results in the death of many other species. Some argue we are in the middle of just such an effect now, where the death of so many thousands of species has reached a point of cascade, wherein it is impossible to stop, and we will be left with only humans, for a short time. For, regardless of whether one is vegetarian or not, humans are dependent on animal life for our survival.

There are so many interactions between animals and plants, between animals and insects (another animal, but I’m making a point here), between animals and the air we breathe and the water we drink. Humanity would cease to exist long before the last animal species was wiped out, because it is a co-dependancy. A good example of co-dependancy  is that between wolves and deer. Too many wolves, and the deer are removed. Not enough wolves, and the deer overpopulate, then overgraze the available resources and die out en masse from starvation. Huntings laws help keep that balance, but hunting laws are not going to keep us alive when all the predators are gone, or when all the prey is, or when all the bugs are gone. There are billions upon billions of interactions in the world that result in life for humans, and we can’t imitate them all.  That’s the reason for endangered species laws.

Be all that as it may be, however, I’ve strayed too far from the point. The point is that killing is not murder, legally. abortionAbortion is NOT murder, legally. There is a movement among Evangelical Christians to define life as beginning from the moment of conception, frivolous and stupid idea that it is.  Does the world celebrate birthdays or conception days? Most of us know that life begins at birth. No one wants to see a baby killed. However, killing living, breathing human beings is almost universally illegal, except for executions, and in war, or self-defense, or by accident. Killing is not and cannot ever be considered murder in all cases. Killing a fetus is just such a case.

Killing a human fetus, is not, for the time being, murder. There was a time when it was. Murder is a relative term, depending entirely on what the society making the laws believes.

For, if killing a fetus is murder, regardless of the law, then so is execution, war, and accidental death. We don’t seem to agree on this. A number of fundamentalist zealots want life defined as beginning from the moment of conception, so they can justify making all abortion illegal. However, almost all of them accept execution, and war, and do not want those things to be illegal. It is a very inconsistent, illogical and convenient. Is all killing murder? or not? Does a woman who slips and falls, kill her fetus? or a woman who is involved in a car accident or other such incident that results in the fetus’s death kill that fetus? Are they murderers? How many exceptions will the believers accept in order to make abortion illegal again?

But then, there is that other question. If one is opposed to all killing, and all killing is murder, then eating animals is certainly murder, for animals are often cruelly killed, tortured and abused in the process of becoming what we refer to as meat. meat Dead animal flesh is dead animal flesh. The animal had to be killed for that. If killing is murder, than eating meat condones murder. Hah! you say? animals are not human. Why is that? Very convenient. We can kill, that is, terminate any life we want, as long as it isn’t what society defines as human. Funny how most animal fetuses, including human fetuses, look exactly alike in the womb at some point. It is in the development that a fetus becomes an animal or a human. So somehow, people argue, animals and people are not the same, and it is OK to kill animals for food, even if they resemble us, because well, they are not human – by law. Again, it is a legal fiction that animals and people are not protected from killing in the same way. There are animal cruelty laws, but those usually apply only to pets, and ranch animals like horses, which often are a kind of pet. Slaughterhouses kill every day, and we don’t blink an eye at that.

So again, I have to ask, why is a human fetus, unborn, not yet even breathing, more important than a living, breathing animal? The historical answer has always been: the soul. Biblical teachings have it that human beings are special, and are thus endowed with souls. Animals have no soul, therefore, it is legal to kill them. And, kill them we do, in the millions every day, and yet it is not murder, because we do not define it as such. So it is with abortion: when it is legal, it is not murder.

So, the whole question of abortion as murder comes down to this soul, a religious belief that sets humans apart from animals, for the purpose of allowing us to kill animals without shame or repercussion.

Some people do not believe in the concept of souls.

Some people believe that all living things have souls.

Some people selectively believe that only humans have souls.

So, what life-begins-at-conception laws and anti-abortion laws really are, are an attempt to impose, legally, the belief on all people, that souls exist, that a human fetus, alone of all creatures, has a soul, and therefore cannot be killed. This attempt is only possible if one does not care what other people believe. Lately, I see all these complaints from the politically-motivated-religious right that they are being persecuted for their beliefs. Somehow, it is persecution to resist their attempts to force their beliefs on those of us who do not share those beliefs. This has happened throughout the history of religion. Those who believe have killed those who do not believe the same things in the same way. “That was in the past,” they say. Bull. It is happening again. This same group of self-righteous religious fanatics wants to make providing access to abortion, or having an abortion a Capital Crime. Again, those motivated by their belief that they are right and the rest of us are wrong, want to kill everyone who does not accede to their beliefs, and they want it to be legal to do so.

That is the essence of religion: do what I say, or you will die, for I am right, and you are wrong. And you seriously think I shouldn’t be offended by that? You seriously think I shouldn’t fear your blatant attempts to legislate your particular brand of morality? to make everyone follow your beliefs by law? Christianity

THINK AGAIN.

Posted in crime, current events, faith, Human rights, Life, madness, opinion, politics, rambling, Random Thoughts, rants, religion, war, World | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

Flying Again

Posted by O'Maolchaithaigh on September 28, 2011

The last time I was preparing to fly, I felt a feeling of impending doom, although I did not associate that with the flight itself. Now, I wonder. Here I am about to board another plane within a month’s time, and I again feel apprehensive.  Could it be that I have developed a fear of flying? It seems odd, although not so much considering the use to which some planes have been put in this country. However, I’ve always loved flying, even though I don’t get to do it much.  I have been excited the last few days about going to my brother’s wedding on  the east coast. Celebratory gatherings are so much more fun than wakes.

Why, then, does my mind dwell on scenarios of fighting with terrorists, surviving a plane crash, losing my luggage, and even ending up homeless, wandering the world? Too much violence in the world, I suppose. Hard to feel safe anymore. Of course, that was the intention of the terrorists, and the huge expenditure of money from a government in deficit has helped their cause by wasting our tax money on overblown security precautions, and a new bloated government agency. No amount of expenditure is going to make us safe ever again, but we keep on spending money, throwing money away, building new screening machines, hiring more clueless, uneducated screening personnel, making every U.S. citizen a terror suspect. We keep looking over our shoulders, backwards, instead of looking ahead.

    

Can we really keep spending money like this, just to create a false sense of security? It doesn’t even work, if I am any indication. I don’t believe all this removing my shoes, emptying my pockets, being x-rayed and hassled, and having to suspect all my fellow passengers is making me any safer. Paranoia inevitably leads to fear, and to an inability to function. Look, people: flying has always been dangerous. Planes crash on a regular basis. More people die in car crashes, to be sure, but there is no way to guarantee passenger safety just by hoping that our laughingly inadequate security measures are really going to keep some nutjob from finding a way to sabotage a plane. It’s unlikely that the whole flying a plane into a major U.S. landmark thing is really what every terrorist in the world is planning next. Our security measures are predicated on stopping that from happening. Someone can still plant a bomb in luggage, or fire a rocket grenade at a plane landing or taking off.  Hell, to really inspire more terror, someone is not going to do the same thing that was done before.

The next time, there’s going to be a nuke, or at least a dirty bomb. Forget the planes, for crying out loud. We need to ensure that those nuclear plants are secure, that transportation of fissionable materials, and even nuclear waste is secure. We know this, and yet we permit our government to spend the bulk of our security money on securing our air travel? Jeez, enough already. Let’s monitor terrorists, investigate possible security lapses in protecting our power grids and oil and gas facilities. Let’s go back to working with every nation in the world to seek out and destroy terror cells, and cut off their funding. No funding, no travel. If the nutjobs want to blow each other up, let ’em. But if they can’t afford large bombs, intercontinental missiles, and even plane fare, then we’d be a lot safer.

Every day, people die in this country. Sometimes it’s from car crashes, bus crashes, plane crashes, gas line explosions, earthquakes, hurricanes, floods, or accidents and homicides. Do we really think a few terrorists can do worse? I don’t. This is one huge MF-ing country. It can’t be taken down with a few explosions here and there. But we can fail, if we let fear dominate our everyday lives. We can fail if we use fear to win elections. We can fail if we keep seeing each other as the enemy. Some day, we need to stop fighting each other and work together to make this, again, a country that other nations envy, that everyone would like to imitate, not attack. People don’t hate us because of our freedom. They hate us because we threaten their way of life. Sure, some of them are just nuts, they strike out at power, because they are powerless. But, when we violate the sovereignty of other countries, when we exploit their resources, and attempt to impose, often simply economically, our way of life on other cultures, we create resentment. I think, maybe, we need to stop doing that.

Even the most powerful country on the face of the planet can fall under its own weight. Look at the Roman empire; look at the British empire. Look at the Third Reich. And those were just the most recent empires to fail. Throughout history nations and empires have risen and then fallen. If we want to remain a great nation, we have to represent more than a nation of powerful weapons and large armies. Spending all of our money and effort on weapons and security will not save us.

Are we with the rest of the world, or against it?

Posted in current events, Human rights, Life, madness, opinion, rambling, rants | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Moon Watching, Watching Watchmen

Posted by O'Maolchaithaigh on March 6, 2009

moon

The moon, low to the horizon and huge, has a reddish tint to it tonight.  I tried to take a picture when I got home, but it was behind the trees already.

I watched it heading west on my way home at 3 a.m Friday morning, in the western hemisphere, North America.  It was not full, but the light it reflected on a clear night was spectacular.

It reminded me of the scenes on the red surface of Mars in the movie I had just watched. Watchmen.  The only movie I’ve watched in a theater in over a year.  The only movie I’ve ever gone to see the first showing of, and at midnight to boot.  I read Watchman, the graphic novel, many years ago.  Still have it lying around.  Impressed me then, and the movie impressed me even more.  Damn, that was a spectacular movie.   Special effects aside, the graphic depiction of human nature qualifies it as literature, in my opinion, so it ought to be hailed as such.  That was one movie that surely tapped into the words and made them even more visual than the two dimensions of the flat page.  Of course, imagination has no bounds when reading, so the pictures, the colors, the artistic vision are not necessary, and so neither is the movie. Nevertheless, this is how we entertain ourselves, and ideas must be presented as entertainment.  The story, the book, the movie: all are superbly murderous, bloody, violent, tragic, lusty, depraved and, yet, somehow more than that, and much more than entertainment.

Such a story.  Is it a tragedy? It ends with horrible destruction, then hope, and finally, a theme that runs through the entire movie ends it: mankind sucks.  We could do better, but we don’t.  Even the noblest among us would sacrifice millions to save billions, and lie about it.  And the lie provides the hope for humanity, and, in the movie’s ending,  the lie is about to be exposed.

Of course, I had hoped to have seen the movie with Karen.  She’d heard about the graphic novel, but it was out of print.  She hadn’t tried to read it sooner because it was DC comics and, not Marvel.  Growing up, of course, I knew about the superior writing in Marvel comics, the multifaceted characters, the gray areas of truth and right and wrong, and the real life, love and rejection, paying bills, death, and jobs and tiny human dramas on the sidelines of every larger action.  The stuff that goes on even if you’re a superhero. Karen admires that about Marvel and doesn’t care for DC comics. I told her it was worth reading.  By the time I found my copy, it has just been reprinted, and she had already bought a copy.  She hadn’t read it last time we spoke of it, so I’m not sure what she thought.  We have similar ideas about war and peace and science and fiction and religion. We’ve read many of the same books, seen many of the same movies, and admired the best of humanity in all of it.  Unfortunately, the difference in our ages prevents us from seeing something like Watchmen together.

[aside: ran into Karen at the coffee cart later this very day.  I had to have coffee to stay awake after getting maybe one hour of sleep after this movie.  She smiled and forced a wave to me when she got in line.  I was talking to someone, so I waited until she come over to  sprinkle cinnamon on the whipped cream on top of her iced mocha. Told her I’d seen Watchmen, and she asked me about it. Told her how exciting it was, and the crowds there.  Asked her, since it was Friday, after all, if we could meet for lunch later.  She said she was having a working lunch.  Said she had to go.  The oddest thing of all was that I asked her if she had ever read the copy of Watchmen she had bought.  She got real defensive; said she’d read it two years ago! But I know she bought it only recently, when the second printing came out, and I had even asked her if she’d read it, and she said no, that she hadn’t had time yet.  Now, suddenly she read it two years ago?  That doesn’t make sense. Something is very odd here.]

When I asked her if we could see Silver Surfer together – that’s when she let me know.  She said, “That would be like a date!” with a look of horror or disgust on her face.  “Inappropriate.” That’s the word she used many times.  Inappropriate for me to ask her out, to want to meet her after work, see a movie, have a drink, give her flowers.  Even leaving aside my romantic interest in her, she can not even think of me as friend outside of the workplace.  I rarely see her anymore; we work in different buildings, for different departments, but, occasionally have lunch still.

As intriguing as Watchmen is, I still found part of me wishing I could watch it with Karen.  I didn’t ask her.  I know it’s beyond her to imagine going somewhere with me.  She’d rather go to a play, like Monty Python’s Holy Grail, with her uncle than with me.  I guess old men are OK if you’re related to them.   It’s not even sad anymore to think about. It’s something I’ve had to accept, like my former wife telling me I had to move out, or she’d call the police, tell them her life was in danger.  Very effective.  Very legal.  I could have challenged it later, but by then, I’d have been out, and why would I want to live with someone who’d done that to me?  And Karen.  How nice it would have been to tell her about all that, to have a friend I could talk to, who would listen. She wouldn’t listen – it was also inappropriate to speak of anything personal.  I’m not really sure why.  I could understand a woman not wanting to hear about my disintigrating marriage or the end, when it came.  But, even later? Long after the divorce, she wanted to hear nothing of it.   Of course, sometimes I think it was just because she didn’t want to encourage my inappropriate feelings for her.

But, life goes on. Sort of.  In Watchmen, life goes on, but the underlying tensions are not gone.  Even the deaths of so many millions can ultimately have been for nothing.   I understand the characters in the story who speak of the pointlessness of it all, that we have exactly the society we wanted.  We are violent and selfish and greedy and murderous.  Perhaps we’ll never change.  We cringe at horror, but do little to stop it.  We even participate in our own little ways.

And me? I go on for some reason. Inertia? I don’t know.  I move along with work, with my union activities, with reading, and movies, and guitar, and hiking, and it’s not doing a whole lot for me.  If it were doing something for someone else, perhaps I could accept that as my motivation.  I’m just not really sure I care about anything anymore.  I was happy enough being married to someone I loved, even if not every day was a good one.  I could have gone on that way for a long time, maybe forever.  When it fell apart, and, abruptly it was over, I found myself insanely in love with Karen.  I felt so good, so alive, so ready to fall in love all over again.  It was exhilarating to believe in love, to think I could actually have the “in love” feeling again. That would have given me a real reason to enjoy life and want to go on.  The chances seem slim now.  I feel a great sense of accelerated aging, of death coming soon, but  I don’t fear death.  I would like to be happy while I’m alive, but perhaps it’s just not possible anymore.  I don’t even know what would make me truly happy.  Karen. Well, there’s her, and my feelings for her. I’d certainly be happy being with her, but it cannot be.  So, I seem to be rejecting all possibilities that come my way: the old girlfriend back in my life, the other former lover living close by, the union sister who tried to interest me in dating a friend of hers, or even herself – why am I so withdrawn, so quick to misunderstand, so quick to push people away?

Posted in Life, love, madness, marriage, My Life, rambling, relationships, war | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

BREAKING POINTS

Posted by O'Maolchaithaigh on August 29, 2008

Things happen

violence flares

mom throws things

yells at Dad

Dad yells at Mom

throws things

Mom threw a glass at me

broken shard cut my leg.

Dad, angry knocked me

into walls or

my breath out

backhanded me

from across a table

spankings,

leather strap too

didn’t faze me

much

but

when he falsely accused

and slapped me

one way and back the other

and back again and

his hand swung

and I snapped

knocked him down

and raised my foot

to kick!

his head in

smash his brains

but

he caught my leg

in powerful arms

smiling

never hit me again.

35 years later

married

arguing

she accuses

falsely

she yells

calls me a liar

coffee cups in our hands

I empty mine at her

she throws hers in my face

and I snap

What is wrong with you?

escapes my lips

between clenched teeth

and I slap one way

and the other and swing

my open hand

to slap again

with fingers only

but she backs away

and I sit in my chair

and smash a remote

against a wall

I am my father.

she calls the police

domestic violence, she says

I’m in a domestic violence situation

she says

I listen from my chair

disbelief replaces anger.

the police come

while I clean up the coffee

she is not there

cops are suspicious

stained rag in my hand

no one else around

oh shit! I think

yes, of course, come in

search the house

she is not here

I don’t know where

crap!

I show them neighbors

where she might be

they find her

tell me I have to leave

counseling for me

anger management for me

Later on

She tells me to stay

unless it ever happens again

It never does, but

she keeps drinking

moody

angry happy sad up and down

never satisfied

impatient

demanding and hard

belittling and mean.

I left all that as a boy

but, now, in love

I can’t leave her

my heart beats

in a hollow

relationship

year after year after year.

Posted in family, Life, love, madness, marriage, My Life, poem, poetry, relationships | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

THREE

Posted by O'Maolchaithaigh on August 29, 2008

In two thousand and three

three thousand dollars

bought three weeks in China

two 23-hour plane trips

meals hotels and travel

buses, trains, and boats

five more plane rides

Beijing and Shanghai

Gulin, Xian, Hong Kong

Rivers Yangtze and Li

the Grand Canal in Suzhou

markets and pandas

and cormorants too

small concrete towns

terraced hills

and fish ponds on roofs

lacquerware silk

acrobats motorcyles

museums and gardens

flowers and ponds

temples and factories.

Thousands of

the national bird

— the construction crane —

are everywhere.

Curious white masks

more and more we see

worn on bikes in shops

in cars on buses

an epidemic – SARS

Meanwhile —

the USA invades Iraq

no weapons are found

bloody pictures posted

on walls, fences, bus stops

of Iraqi children.

Chinese express sympathy

for us poor Americans

our country is at war.

I wear my peace symbol Peace

on my lapel as I travel.

A soldier stares at it

under Tianamen Square

But, returning home

brings anxiety —

will they let me return?

will SARS close US borders?

is peace treasonous?

But

all they ask is

did I have contact with

anyone, anyone with SARS?

and I have to remove

my shoes

pass through x-rays

and my bag is searched.

I’m home.

O’Maolchaithaigh 2008-2017

Posted in Life, My Life, poem, poetry, Travel, World | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

 
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